STAR overseas batsman Phil Hughes will not be available to Worcestershire until the end of May after his inclusion in Cricket Australia training camps.
However, the New Road outfit have moved quickly to cover the Australian left-hander’s absence by agreeing a short-term deal with Michael Klinger, the captain of South Australia Redbacks.
While it is a blow to be without Hughes for the early part of the season, 31-year-old Klinger’s recent form suggests the County have signed an able deputy.
The right-hander, who averages 41.32 in all List ‘A’ cricket, scored the third double-century of his career during the second innings of the Sheffield Shield game against Tasmania last weekend, while he was also the highest run-scorer in the 2011/12 Ryobi One-Day Cup campaign, amassing 498 at an average of 55.33.
Before Christmas, axed Test opener Hughes, 23, agreed terms to join Worcestershire for the second half of the county season in June, but in January he declared his availability for the whole summer.
However, his situation has changed again and he is now not likely to make his County bow until the CB40 clash against his former county Middlesex at New Road on May 27.
Hughes explained: “I now have commitments with Australia that will delay my arrival at Worcestershire until late May.
“While it has cut back my time in the UK, I am very confident that I will be better prepared and ready to play my part in what should be a successful campaign for Worcestershire.
“I won’t be arriving until May 20, but it’s still going to be a lengthy stint and I’m looking forward to getting over there and helping the team win matches. If I can help put the side into winning positions, it’s going to make it easier for the team to get a trophy.
“I can’t wait to get over to New Road — it’s a very exciting opportunity for me and hopefully I will go there and score a lot of runs. I have played county cricket before for Middlesex and Hampshire, but I want to score even more runs for Worcestershire this time around.”
On the Klinger signing, County director of cricket Steve Rhodes added: “I saw Mike play out in Adelaide and his skill, attitude and maturity made me sit up and take note.
“Mike has recently captained South Australia to the domestic one-day title and his batting was one of the main reasons for the success as he was the top run-scorer in the competition.”
Klinger said: “I am extremely excited to be joining Worcestershire for the start of the season. I’ve heard many good things about the County and I look forward to contributing to the team in getting some wins early in the season.”